China shares fall as investors watch trade talks

* Shanghai Composite index -0.9 pct * Blue-chip CSI300 index -0.4 pct * China premier promises to ‘sharply’ expand financial market opening SHANGHAI, March 28 () – Chinese shares ended weaker on Thursday as lingering concerns over the economy and trade weighed on investor sentiment, despite government pledges to open markets and indications of progress in Sino-U.S. trade talks. ** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.92 percent at 2,994.94. ** The blue-chip CSI300 index was down 0.4 percent, with its financial sector sub-index lower by 0.86 percent and the real estate index down 1.3 percent. ** Bucking the broader trend, healthcare shares ended up 0.26 percent and a sub-index tracking the consumer staples sector rose 1.86 percent, as distiller Wuliangye Yibin climbed to a 14-month high on robust profit growth. ** Investor concerns over U.S.-China trade continued to drag on markets despite a report that the United States and China have made progress in all areas under discussion in trade talks, with unprecedented movement on the touchy issue of forced technology transfers. ** China has also pledged to “sharply” expand opening of its financial market amid the simmering Sino-U.S. trade war. China will allow greater market access for foreign banks and insurance companies, especially in its financial services sector, Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday. ** Li’s remarks, made in a speech at the annual Boao forum held on China’s southern island of Hainan, added to speculation that China might soon announce new rules that will allow foreign banks and insurance firms to increase their presence in China. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended down 0.9 percent and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was weaker by 0.669 percent. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.15 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 1.61 percent. ** At 07:24 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 6.7289 per U.S. dollar, 0.04 percent weaker than the previous close of 6.7265. ** The largest percentage gainers on the main Shanghai Composite index were China United Travel Co Ltd, up 10.06 percent, followed by Chongqing Gangjiu Co Ltd, gaining 10.05 percent, and Beijing Jingcheng Machinery Electric Co Ltd, up by 10.04 percent. ** The largest percentage losers on the Shanghai index were Fujian Furi Electronics Co Ltd, down 10.04 percent, followed by Zhejiang CONBA Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, losing 10.02 percent, and China National Software & Service Co Ltd, down by 10.01 percent. ** So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is up 20.1 percent and the CSI300 has risen 23.8 percent, while China’s H-share index listed in Hong Kong is up 11.7 percent. Shanghai stocks have risen 1.84 percent this month. ** About 28.81 billion shares were traded on the Shanghai exchange, roughly 73.6 percent of the market’s 30-day moving average of 39.12 billion shares a day. The volume in the previous trading session was 29.14 billion. ** As of 07:25 GMT, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 21.35 percent over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. ** The Shanghai stock index is above its 50-day moving average and above its 200-day moving average. ** The price-to-earnings ratio of the Shanghai index was 12.56 as of the last full trading day, while the dividend yield was 2.5 percent. ** So far this week, the market capitalisation of the Shanghai stock index has declined by 2.62 percent to 32.96 trillion yuan ($4.90 trillion). ($1 = 6.7263 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)Our Standards:The Thomson Trust Principles.